University of Alabama System Chancellor explains impact the system has on the state and Wiregrass

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 2:09 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Classes are back in session and college students fill campus universities once again. Finis St. John, the Chancellor of the University of Alabama System, made a trip to Dothan and shared the impact these universities have on the Wiregrass area and the state. His speech focused on the commitment this system has to excellence in teaching, research and service.

The University of Alabama System is made up of four entities. Three doctoral research institutions, those being the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. There is also the UAB Health System, which is a world-class academic medical center.

“Any student in Alabama that has any interest in any field can find a place where they can be taught by some of the greatest minds in the country,” Chancellor St. John said.

The UA System educates more Alabamians than any other university system, having over 70,000 students on the three campuses. Currently 700 of those students are from the Wiregrass.

“There are no limits on what they can reach in the future for their future if they choose to attend our university,” Chancellor St. John said. “So, we’re very proud of the programs we offer and the quality of the service we provide.”

Service that pulls in a large number of students from out of state.

About half of the student population at the University of Alabama campus is from out of state. While UAB and UAH share the same amount of out of state students, which is about 20 percent.

Chancellor St. John said the diversity on UA System campuses broadens the educational experience and helps contribute to Alabama’s workforce.

“Our state has done a great job of attracting world class businesses from all over the place, growing businesses, but the biggest need we have is people,” Chancellor St. John said. “…Every one of our graduates that graduates finds a job immediately. But still, there’s still a need and I think one of the ways we can address that is attract out of state students to our universities then convince them to stay.”

The UA System is the largest employer in the state with 45,000 employees. Its overall economic impact exceeds $10 billion a year.

“We believe the work we do is a public service,” Chancellor St. John said. “We’re committed every day in improving the lives and the health of the people in the state of Alabama.”

Chancellor St. John said the system is a complex organization with several moving parts. With thousands of students and employees, he said it creates a financially complex, difficult model. This puts concern about their funding at the forefront.

“We’ve been very fortunate that the state and the federal governments have been very generous to us, but we have to be good stewards of every penny that we get,” Chancellor St. John said. “Every dollar that we get is either from a student, their parents, a taxpayer, or a donor. So, somebody worked hard for those dollars, and we have to be very responsible with them for everyone.”

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